Just News from Center X – May 13, 2022

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Teaching, Leading, and Social Justice

Weary but energized, students in conservative states mobilize around Roe v. Wade leak

Liz Willen, Hechinger Report

When 16-year-old Brennan Eberwine read the leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last week that could put an end to legal abortion, the high school junior in Louisville, Kentucky, did something that’s been a part of his life since eighth grade.  He protested. “I have a deep pit in my stomach over this,” Eberwine, one of hundreds of Louisville students who walked out of three area high schools last Thursday, told me. “What it opens up is horrifying,” he said of the draft ruling. “It weighs you down, but if you let that weight crush you, it’s over.” Eberwine is a junior at duPont Manual High School, a magnet public school that happens to be the alma mater of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said a national ban on abortion might be “possible” if Roe were overturned.

These 3 Latina Teachers Are Pushing the Boundaries of Computer Science Class

Benjamin Herold, Education Week

In Megan Bowen’s high school robotics class, students made cardboard mazes, quizzed a local expert who brought live birds into her classroom, and decided how they should be graded, all before touching a computer. Their goal was to collaboratively design a “bird vending machine” that used small microcontrollers to train crows to find loose coins in the surrounding neighborhoods of Salem, Mass., then deposit them in a slot in exchange for food. “I’m very passionate about showing how computer science relates to things other than just coding,” said Bowen, who identifies as Hispanic-American and queer and originally studied to become an English teacher.

A failed commitment to promote LGBTQ-inclusive education in Puerto Rico

Alberto J. Valentín, Washington Blade

Gender identity, gender expression, identity, biological identity, transgender women, trans masculinity and machismo, among other things, cannot be mentioned within Puerto Rico’s public system right now. Is this another version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill? No, but it’s not too far from it. The above is happening in Puerto Rico, the territory with the highest rates of gender-based violence in the entire country. Puerto Rico Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos on March 10 signed a circular letter (Number 032-2021-2022): Equity and respect among all human beings that create a curriculum of gender equity within the public instruction system. The approval of this circular letter happened after a written commitment adopted in the Executive Order 2021-013 from 2021, where Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency on the island because of gender-based violence.

Language, Culture, and Power

Report details brutal treatment of Indigenous children attending U.S. boarding schools [Video]

Amna Nawaz, PBS Newshour

The federal government detail for the first time today the brutality and treatment that Native American children suffered when, beginning in the 1800s, they were forcibly moved into U.S. boarding schools. Leaders of different tribes and communities spelled out a litany of horrors that they say led to a cultural genocide that still impacts Native Americans to this day.

What you should know about Plyler, the case protecting undocumented students’ education rights

Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat

A Supreme Court case known as Plyler v. Doe that protects the education of undocumented students marked its 40th anniversary this year. Now, with the high court seemingly poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, another long-standing precedent, one prominent politician hopes Plyler is next. “I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler v. Doe was issued many decades ago,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said recently. The jarring implications of overturning the decision — which could mean kicking out scores of undocumented students from public schools — prompted immediate condemnation from many immigrant rights groups and public school officials.

Looking for bilingual teachers in our own backyards [AUDIO]

Zaidee Stavely, Education Beat Podcast

After years of English-only classes for students who spoke other languages at home, California is now pushing to expand bilingual programs for all students. But the state has a huge obstacle — it needs more bilingual teachers. Some say we need to look beyond colleges and universities, and instead find new teachers among bus drivers, teachers’ aides, and attendance clerks.

Whole Children and Strong Communities

Students from across California share experiences with campus gun violence

California Student Journalism Corps, EdSource

Since the Columbine school shooting in 1999, more than 292,000 students have faced gun violence in their schools. As of April 2022, there have been 23 school shootings in the U.S. this year, according to Education Week’s school shooting tracker. With the recent introduction of California bills such as SB 906, requiring parents to disclose their possession of firearms at home, debates about whether states and schools are doing enough to keep their students and staff safe have only intensified. As California leads the nation in the number of mass shootings in the past 40 years, students, teachers and parents are seeking ways to ensure safety in schools.

Students Need Summer Learning That Doesn’t Feel Like School

Stephanie Malia Krauss, EdSurge

Last spring, we looked to summer with hopes that the 2021-2022 school year would be different, easier, better. In many ways it was. Students returned to their school buildings, we had months of lower COVID rates and some of kids’ favorite learning strategies—like group projects, stations and flexible seating—came back. In other ways, this school year was harder. Earlier this year, America’s pediatricians and the U.S. Surgeon General declared youth mental health a national emergency. We are in the midst of historic teacher and substitute shortages. COVID remains, and students are still getting sick, or going to school with fears of catching the virus.

TikTok videos and teacher calls: How a South Side Chicago school increased vaccine uptake

Mauricio Pena, Chalkbeat Chicago

More than a dozen elementary school students, sporting bright yellow T-shirts with the words: “Doing my part. Vaccinated,” walked down a hallway at Dunne STEM Academy and recited lines while filming a public service announcement. In take after take, students corrected one another on pronunciation and encouraged classmates to carry on if they fumbled a line. In the PSA, they shared statistics on the health impacts of COVID-19 in children and teenagers: There were more than 8,200 COVID-related hospitalizations among children as of mid-October 2021. Some suffered serious complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

Access, Assessment, Advancement

Setting the Stage for Universal Preschool

Laura Hill, Emmanuel Prunty, and Vicki Hsieh, PPIC

In hopes of leveling the playing field for young children, California will expand Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to all four-year olds by fall 2025. Currently, about a quarter of four-year-olds are eligible for TK, which has been part of the state’s early learning programs since 2012.

Kindergarten students in California have some of the largest gaps in school readiness in the country—and greater access to high-quality early learning is a proven way to reduce these disparities. There are also long-term benefits: preschool graduates go on to experience increased rates of high school graduation and college enrollment, higher earnings, lower welfare use, and less contact with the criminal justice system than their peers.

Child care educators and advocates demand living wages, racial equity

Sydney Dauphinais, WFYI Public Radio

Several childcare providers in Indianapolis shut their doors on Monday as part of “A Day Without Child Care: National Day of Action.” Educators and advocates demand policymakers invest in the child care system to provide racial equity and living wages. Kelly Dawn Jones owns a child care center in the southeastern part of the city. She’s been operating a child care center out of her home for the last 13 years. She closed down her business on Monday to draw a spotlight on the need for transformational investments in the field. “Running a family child care business on a shoestring budget means I often have to make the difficult choice to provide child care, or close for necessary medical care,” Jones said. “Today, I shut my business down because as a child care center owner, I have nothing left to lose.”

No Half Measures, We Need Biden to Cancel All Student Loan Debt

Frederick Bell Jr., In These Times

On September 1, 2021, Hurricane Ida hit Southeast Louisiana, temporarily displacing thousands of New Orleans residents, including myself and most of my family. Residents who had the means evacuated early, leaving others to fight for limited resources while simultaneously seeking refuge in neighboring cities. On top of their pre-existing bills, evacuees were forced to front the costs of hotels, food, gas and repairs or even replacement of their own homes. Natural disasters produce an overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety — you simply don’t know if you will have a house to live in until you are able to return home.  I don’t know how my family would have made ends meet if I was forced to cover my monthly student loan payments while struggling to meet these other, unanticipated expenses. The student loan payment moratorium has enabled myself and my family to stay afloat during turbulent and unpredictable times. We would be even better served by full cancellation of student loan debt.

Inequality, Poverty, Segregation

Virtual learning set poor children even further behind, study shows

Moriah Balingit, Washington Post

Students in high-poverty schools paid a far higher price for virtual learning than did their peers in low-poverty schools, leaving vulnerable students even further behind than when the pandemic started, according to a working paper published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The authors focused on the costs of virtual learning and warned of dire consequences from not addressing the gaps. “If the achievement losses become permanent,” the study warns, “there will be major implications for future earnings, racial equity and income inequality, especially in states where remote instruction was common.” One crucial finding showed that the gaps were not as severe in districts that held more in-person schooling during the pandemic.

Black and Hispanic Americans, those with less education are more likely to fall out of the middle class each year

Rakesh Kochar and Stella Sechopoulos, Pew Research

Economic status is not etched in stone. The loss of a job or an unexpected illness may push a middle-class family down a notch on the economic ladder. But fortunes can improve, too, with a graduation from college or marriage to an earning partner lifting a lower-income adult into the middle class. In the United States, the transience of economic status varies significantly across racial and ethnic groups and by level of education, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than White and Asian adults to move down the income ladder – and less likely to move up it – from one year to the next. Likewise, adults with lower levels of education are more likely than those with more education to see economic regression and less likely to see progression.

The Racial Capitalism of Care [Video]

Ruha Benjamin  Bram Wispelwey  Michelle Morse  Dorothy Roberts, Boston Review

U.S. society is marked by deep inequities in the distribution of care, from unpaid care work inside the home to the disparate treatment and impact of various government agencies and programs. This event, moderated by Ruha Benjamin, examined how racial capitalism—the intertwined operation of race and class—shapes two major systems of care in the United States. Drs. Michelle Morse and Bram Wispelwey discuss their advocacy work on racial inequalities in medicine, while Dorothy E. Roberts discusses her new book on the child welfare system, Torn Apart. Together, they ask how we got here and how we can build a more just world.

Democracy and the Public Interest

Canada’s New Democratic Party Wants to Lower the Voting Age

David Moscrop, Jacobin

In Canada, the House of Commons is debating a private member’s bill by a New Democratic Party (NDP) member of Parliament that would lower the voting age to sixteen. In fact, there are two such bills before the House right now and one in the Senate. There have been similar bills in the past offered by Liberals and New Democrats alike. All told, these bills number nearly a dozen. The bill ought to become law. It’s well past time.In December, on the occasion of a legal challenge against the federal voting age, Aaron Wherry wrote a defense of lowering the voting age to sixteen for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He dispatched with the usual, tired counterarguments and offered a suite of reasons for making the change. Research indicates that the cognitive capacities of sixteen-year-olds are up to the task of democratic engagement. Furthermore, studies have shown that the civic knowledge of those at sixteen years of age is commensurate with that of eighteen-year-olds — the enfranchised age cohort immediately upstream.

Librarians, Teachers Form Coalition to Fight GOP’s Book-Banning Frenzy

Kenny Stancil, Common Dreams

The American Library Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and more than two dozen other organizations on Tuesday formed a coalition to fight the far-right’s record-breaking censorship barrage—wherein nearly 1,600 books were targeted for removal from public shelves and schools across the United States in 2021. The goal of Unite Against Book Bans—which also includes the Authors Guild and prominent publishers such as Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster—is “to empower individuals and communities to fight censorship and protect the freedom to read,” according to the ALA. “This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials,” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said in a statement. “Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs.”

Seminole County students win yearbook flap; pictures of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ protests to remain


After an outcry from students and parents over yearbook censorship, a Florida school board overruled their superintendent’s plan to cover up a page showing students waving rainbow flags and a “love is love” sign during a walkout against the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. The superintendent told the board that the page violated their policy by seeming to endorse a student walkout. Stickers to cover the entire page had already arrived and would be added before yearbooks are handed out this week, she said. Seminole County School Board members rejected that plan Tuesday night, voting 5-0 to order smaller stickers that don’t cover up the page’s words and pictures while explaining that the March protest over the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill outside Lyman High School was unauthorized.

Other News of Note

Isais Hernandez Started an Organization with a Mission for Free Educational Resources on Climate Change [Video]

Alex Hughes, Jordan Walker, Alexandra Katsoulis, Ilse Atkinson, In the Know

Environmental activist Isaias Hernandez believes everyone should have access to environmental education. That’s why Isaias started Queer Brown Vegan, an organization dedicated to sharing educational resources on everything from climate science and climate change to the types of plants that can be foraged in local communities! Isaias first became interested in environmental science as a child growing up in Los Angeles, California. “One of the things I noticed growing up in my environment was the lack of accessible resources, such as the lack of access to clean air, water, and soil,” Isaias tells In The Know. “And there was a really long period of time where my parents did not allow me to go outside due to the smog in the area, and I think that really influenced my curiosity to start asking questions.”